I had a goodbye gathering for a coworker to go to on Monday after work which left Michael in charge of dinner. He'd picked out some lentil/poached egg dish that I could tell he regretted because I received a text shortly after I got to the bar that asked "Bela Napoli's?" I'm sure I've mentioned Bela Napoli's here before. Their pizzas are $5 on Mondays and their pizzas are the closest thing you'll get to actual Italy. I took my friend Jen here when she visited. Jen used to stay with her grandma in Italy ever summer. She ordered a pasta dish the night we went to Bela Napoli's and she looked at me with wide surprised eyes after her first bite and said "This tastes like Nona's!" I feel like that's a pretty good endorsement and on Monday nights, particularly when the weather is nice enough to sit outside, Bela Napoli's is the place to be. It was the place I always suggested when I was on the dating scene because, though the company may end up to be not ideal, I was sure to get a good meal.
This is where I met Michael for our first date. I thought about that when he texted me about eating there that evening. Dates and time kind of blur together, but I had a vague idea that we were creeping up on an anniversary of sorts. June 10th. Almost two years ago. Monday night, as we sat eating our pizza, Michael said something about taking a trip to Italy. We have plans to tighten up the budget and maybe do Dave Ramsey's program when we get back from vacation. Our spending has gotten out of hand. Our reward for paying off all our credit cards is to save money for a trip to Italy. That night Michael said "I think we should each just have our own backpack and that we should rent scooters to ride all over Italy." He didn't know that this was a thing on my Life List, that I wanted to ride scooters all over Italy. I looked away and out the window when he said it. I don't know why, but I didn't want him to see how this idea made me so happy. Then he spent the rest of the evening trying to read my mind.
All I could think in that moment was how dang happy I was. I was so happy that I thought I'd burst into a million bubbles. Ridiculously happy. Filled to the brim happy. And it made me pause. When I'm looking for a certain photo in my Flickr archives, I hardly ever go back to the time before Chris died because I can see in those pictures just how happy we were together and I can't take it. We were Bonnie and Clyde, Desi and Lucy, Abbott and Costello. I remember that first summer in Kansas City and how I blubbered all over Brene Brown about how happy we were and we were, or at least I was, unbelievably happy then. I am tentative to let myself be that happy again for so many reasons. It's not fair for me to be this happy. I am not deserving of such happiness. I want to tell Chris that I'm sorry for being so happy even though he's not here. I want to tell Chris I am not sorry for being so happy despite the fact that he is not here. I am slightly terrified of being ridiculously happy. Look what happened the last time. We have all of these self help books dealing with happiness and finding happiness, but nothing about having your happiness and owning it.
Be prepared for disappointment. How many of us heard this and heard it often growing up? Your life will be a series of mediocre moments with mediocre events. You will go to school. You will get a job, probably a house and a family and you will be happy enough; emphasis on enough. We are programmed to believe that there is contentment and somewhat happiness, but nothing more. And when we do find that there is more, that more than happy enough is possible, we don't have a clue as to how to handle it. No one told us to be prepared for overwhelming joy and happiness. No one warned you that there would be times when joy would flow into you so fast that it will squeeze your heart until tears leak out your eyes. Only spiritual gurus experience such overwhelming joy and happiness, not the regular every person. In fact, the God I was raised on wouldn't want me to ever have that kind of happiness. It is decadent and sinful.
Life is filled with disappointment and since I was prepared so thoroughly for it, disappointments have become the mediocre event. I've got them. I know how they work. I know loss and pain and heartache. Those are easy. A piece of fucking cake. I can say goodbye, shed a few tears and move on better than anyone. At one point I thought I did happiness pretty well too. It took some time to get there. I had to practice to be mindful of those moments, but eventually I thought I could relish in those moments of bliss. I could look around and exclaim "Holy Goats! Look how stupid happy we are!!!" with out blinking an eye. I didn't learn how to do that early enough in life and I'm still in class learning. That shattering end to the last ridiculously happy moment shook my confidence. So if you were to have asked me a few months ago, even a few days ago if I was happy, my reply would have been "I'm happy enough." even though it is a diminished answer of the truth.
If you were to ask me today if I am happy, my reply would be "Yes. Yes, I am ridiculously happy."